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Divided legislature takes different approaches to education spending

Minnesota's divided legislature has to find common ground on education spending proposals and decide what level of state school funding school districts across Minnesota will receive before a May 20 deadline, according to the Star Tribune. The Star Tribune interviewed me for this article, but my comments did not make it into print. Here is commentary I shared during my interview....

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This is a Whopper: Minnesota’s HQ2 Amazon bid was lost in the Cloud.

Minnesota’s HQ2 bid is subject to transparency laws. So why didn’t the State release the bid back in 2017? Apparently, Governor Dayton did not think taxpayers had the right to see what was promised to Amazon. When a small non-profit (Public Record Media) sued to get a copy of the bid, the State claimed that it did not possess a copy of the bid. ...

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KARE 11 Investigates: ‘Stay Away Pay’ costs taxpayers millions

Would it surprise you to learn that government employees under investigation for misconduct and sometimes even criminal activity get paid to stay home from work rather than be fired? KARE 11 investigators found investigations sometimes take years, even when the misconduct was self-reported or caught on video! In the meantime, taxpayers are shelling out millions of dollars in pay and benefits. ...

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Strib Political Reporter Backtracks on DFL Cronyism Expose

He might be called Metro Joe but it was a small Northern Minnesota weekly that broke the expose that the big city newspapers are just catching up to. Former state representative and failed congressional candidate Joe Radinovich was recently hired by the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation state agency under circumstances that were questionable at best. The Timberjay newspaper out of Ely, Minnesota gathered all of the juicy details of the first scandal of the newly installed Tim Walz administration. It turns out IRRRB Commissioner Mark Phillips hired Radinovich for a six-figure civil service post and cut corners every step...

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Foundation Pulls the Plug on City’s Chief Resilience Officer

It turns out that you have to be pretty resilient yourself in order to go to work as the chief resilience officer (CRO) for the city of Minneapolis. The city's first resilience officer, DFL-insider Kate Knuth, quit the cutting edge position after a mere seven months on the job without submitting any work product, according to media reports. Knuth summed up her insights gained as CRO in an op-ed at the time. I believe people feel we aren’t capable of taking on the big things because we don’t have the tools to do the work we need to do together. In other...

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Mayor Carter didn’t have $100k for Independence Day fireworks but does have $225k for a “human-powered gliding” competition

Last year, according to Mayor Carter, Saint Paul didn't have "$100,000 to spend blowing up rockets over our city" to commemorate the country's birthday. This year, it has $225,000 available to spend on a “human-powered gliding” competition. That's some turnaround. ...

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County Attorney’s Hiring of Son Raises Nepotism Controversy

By now you'd think that nepotism policies guarding against favoritism in hiring of family members would be standard procedure in government. But St. Louis County belatedly adopted a nepotism provision this week, following a prolonged controversy stirred up County Attorney Mark Rubin and closely followed by the Duluth News Tribune and other media. One member of the public addressed the board Tuesday. Allen Richardson said he represented a newly formed anti-nepotism task force. “It’s my opinion that respect has to be earned by public officials,” he said. “The reason that this policy is before you today is that Mark Rubin’s hiring decision, while...

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Rural Reporter Derails Star Tribune on New Amtrak Train to Duluth

The Star Tribune editorial board carries considerable weight as the voice of Minnesota's biggest media outlet. But the paper's recent endorsement of bringing back the failed Amtrak Twin Cities to Duluth-Superior passenger train just got derailed by a rural Pine County online website the ed board likely never heard of--PiCK News. PiCK stands for Pine County Knows News, run by longtime local reporter Ailene "Gussie" Croup, who's tracked the proposed Northern Lights Express (NLX) boondoggle from day one in 2007. She laid it on the line in a hard-hitting rebuttal run by the Star Tribune. It was the beginning of millions of...

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Push for Return of Failed Duluth Passenger Train Reaches State Capitol

Old rail lines never die. They keep chugging along, powered by just enough taxpayer funding for the required environmental and operational studies to maintain bureaucratic momentum over the years. Then out of nowhere comes a PR offensive this week to herald the return of the failed Amtrak passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Twin Ports with a series of public events at both ends of the line, including the State Capitol. A top Amtrak official will hold an open-house today at the Duluth Depot with a pitch to turn back the clock to the 1980s defunct Northstar line. Now rebranded...

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